Category Archives: Who Is

Pearl Bryan 1874-1896


Where is Pearl’s Head?

The last decade of the 1800s was a murderous one. Bloody Victorian crimes were making sensational headlines and adding to the coffers of newspaper owners. In 1896, coming off the heels of the Borden murders and H.H. Holmes, a murder occurred that encompassed 3 states and just about every newspaper in the nation carried the saga, some of it bordering on tabloidism just so they could have something in print. Along with the “normal” murder case betrayal and lies, it included unrequited love, chemistry, conspiracy for a criminal operation, feticide, mobs making a mad dash to collect muderabilia, monies made from crime scene touring, a fetus in a peppermint stick jar, and a manhunt for a head. The 21st century sees people adding even more fantastical details that keep what was once deemed the “crime of the century” in the headlines and keep it a money making business.

There is no way of knowing how many thousands of people have paid to investigate Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Wilder, KY; and there is no way of knowing how many of those people did their own research before going instead of listening to the urban legends that are told in books and tv shows about the location. A lot of money has been made since a book published in 2001 made the first untrue claim that it had been a place of satanic worship in the 1800s. The snowball effect had been started and it gets bigger every day. Patrons and paranormal investigators have had lies that line the pockets of “parastars”, book publishers, and tv producers shoved down their throats for decades; and it makes me wonder why the majority people seem to care so little for the truth of what actually happened.

The basic story told today regarding the Pearl Bryan murder goes something like this: Pearl Bryan was pregnant with Scott Jackson’s baby. She wanted to get married and he tricked her into coming to Cincinnati from Greencastle, IN. When she arrived, he and Alonzo Walling murdered her and because they were members of a satanic cult, they beheaded her and threw her head down a well located in the basement of an abandoned slaughterhouse as a blood sacrifice. Bloodhounds used in other famous cases were brought in and they tracked Pearl’s scent to the same slaughterhouse. Refusing to tell anyone what had really happened, they stood on the scaffold the day they were hung and threatened to come back and haunt everyone.

Would you like to take a guess how much of the above is true? Four things. If I have peaked your interest, be sure to pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations”   to learn the real history behind this haunting case.



















Lavinia Fisher 1793-1820

Old Charleston Jail - 1864

Old Charleston Jail – 1864

Most anyone who is the slightest bit interested in “ghost hunting” has heard of Lavinia Fisher and her exploits outside the city of Charleston, SC and at the Old Jail, but in case you haven’t, let me give you a rundown of the “facts” that are given on true crime blogs, ghost hunting shows, haunted location shows, and ghost tours.

It goes something like this:

Lavinia Fisher was America’s first female serial killer and the first woman executed in America (how is that for history making!). She, along with her husband John, were arrested, tried and convicted of mass murder and hung at the Old Charleston Jail. Wearing her wedding dress (and a noose), she shouted, “If any of you have a message for the devil, say it now for I shall see him in a moment” and flung herself off the platform before the hangman could perform the duties for which he would be paid in alcohol (good thing it wasn’t tea).

Lavinia and John were innkeepers who drugged their patrons with a special tea (rumored to be oleander) and secreted them down into their cellar via hidden trapdoors in the bedrooms to murder them (the number of victims varies). One man, John Peebles (or Peoples), a weary traveler looking for a bed for the night, was almost a victim. 

After sharing a late dinner with the Fishers, Mr Peebles retired to his room and a short time later Lavinia brought him some  of her “special” tea to help him sleep. He did not like tea, but he probably did not want to offend his host so he dumped it out of the window when she was not looking (She was probably trying to make sure the bed was in the proper position for her nefarious plan).  Mr. Peebles was concerned about personal questions the Fishers had asked during dinner and it occurred to him that he might have said too much and they might attempt to rob him, so instead of going to bed he decided to wait out the night sitting in a chair. A little while later, he was stunned to see his bed disappear (and the tea cannot be blamed). Mr. Peebles escaped out the same window and ran to the police to make a report (we have no record if he was tea stained or not). The sheriff hastened to the inn and during the investigation he found a cellar with hidden tunnels full personal belongings from those that had been reported missing and approximately 100 skeletons.

They were tried in May of 1819 and convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. They were housed in the jail until they were hung in February of 1820 and they were buried in the Unitarian Church Cemetery in Charleston.

Maybe she isn’t as ‘at rest’ as she should be? It is reported that Lavina is one nasty spirit that not only haunts the Old Charleston Jail, but attacks people as well.

I think we can agree this is basically the story most of you are familiar with can’t we?

What would you say if I told you that there are only 3 facts in that tale that are actually true? Will you call me a paranormal blasphemer or will you save handing down a judgment that is just as unfair as the one passed on Lavinia and hear me out? Yes?  If you are interested in reading about the real history be sure to pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations”

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The Real Story of Cold Mountain (William Pinkney Inman 1840-1865)

Pink & John's Grave

What a lot of you might know, is that many years ago a book was written (by my cousin) about a soldier’s odyssey during the civil war called Cold Mountain. Eventually, it would be turned into a movie with Jude Law playing the character of my uncle. What a lot of you don’t know is that decades before that, I had a school project involving family history and the family story I focused on is one that would fuel my passion for genealogy and historical research until the day I die. The book/movie took real people and their lives and fictionalized it, because in all honesty, the only things that are the same are the name of the main character and the fact that he was a soldier in the civil war and was shot on top of a mountain.

In the movie the beautiful (if you like those kind of looks), but the useless Ada Monroe (played by Nicole Kidman) moves to “Cold Mountain” with her preacher father where the town is conveniently building a church which leads to many an awkward run in between Inman and Ada where little conversation is actually exchanged.  Evidently she just looked great carrying around trays of drinks. In actuality this church was not built until 1902, when Pink had been in his grave 37 years.Inman's Chapel

We spend the first half of the movie being “convinced” these non conversations have the two of them falling so madly in love that when Inman gets wounded at Petersburg he spends way longer than it should have taken, trying to get home to her. The second half of the movie shows us just how useless Ada is while being berated (brilliantly) by Ruby Thewes for all her short comings. I have to stop and say right here, that the casting of Renee Zellweger in this part was masterful, there are still women up there today just like Ruby, and they scare the pants off of me! We get to enjoy Inman’s (mis)adventures on his way home which provides us with more than the token amount of nudity and makes you ask yourself, “remind me why he’s going home to that waste of space Ada?”

***Spoiler Alert*** Inman makes it back home, they manage to have time to shave his beard AND have sex before the token albino shoots him dead in a scene straight out of a wishing well (yes, I know Charlie Hunnam is not an albino, but they HAD to do something to try to “out goth” Jack White didn’t they?) In the end we see that the all too brief pre-buckshot carnal relations high on that mountain result in a child and everyone else lives happily ever after. At least he died without that awful awful beard.

Now that we have recapped the fiction, please indulge me and pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations” to read the real story of my great uncle Pink.

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The Exorcist House & Boy – 1949

Exorcism Ritual Book

Exorcism Ritual Book circa 1776


******Authors Note 10/13/2016 – If you are new to this website, chances are you found this page because Destination America aired a 6 year old mockumentary last night called The Haunted boy. Why, Shannon, what do you mean by “mockumentary”?  I’m so glad you asked! A mockumentary is a term I use for something that is presented as fact in the guise of a documentary but is full of misleading information or out right lies, as is the case with The Haunted Boy (and another shameful one by the same people called Spooked that is about Waverly Hills Sanitorium). Nothing gets me on my soap box faster than paranormal entertainment that is presented as fact. Please keep in mind that para entertainment does not have a goal to actually educate you with the truth about the paranormal and if you can find even one lie in something, it degrades the entire thing. Those of you that have heard me speak at various events or on radio/podcasts know my passion for haunted history to be factual because I believe it does a real disservice to those that have gone on before us.  If you are reading this article now because of last night airing, all I ask is that you take note of the misinformation presented in the show, read the documented facts here and then ask yourself, when are we going to start holding Para “Celebrities” accountable?  When are you going to start demanding that your entertainment be truthful?*****End Authors Rant

Ok, let’s see a show of hands of who watched Exorcism: Live! on October 30, 2015. You know, that three ring circus of incorrect information interrupted by commercials every five minutes that was presented on cable tv for our “Halloween” entertainment? It’s ok, you can admit it, I certainly did, but mainly because I wanted to see who had sold their souls (and any reputation they MAY have had before October 30th) for the sake of para-entertainment, to the devil parading as “factual tv” (please read that doing Dr. Evil’s air quote pantomime). We were led to believe we would not be lacking in experienced people participating in this event to rid the world of a horrible evil. We had a paranormal investigation team, a couple of mediums, a “documentary” filmmaker and a bishop just to name a few.

I have a VERY small circle of friends that are actually serious researchers when it comes to “haunted locations” and we were all of the same opinion beforehand: it was going to be crap. I don’t know why, but I was really surprised to see some of the people that were involved in this on one hand, and totally expectant of some of the other people because their screwed up version of the “truth” of this location has been making its way around the internet for years.

There are some things you should know about the “Exorcist House” if you want to talk about it factually.  Be sure to pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations” to get the facts!

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Is Waverly Hills Sanatorium Haunted or Haunting?

waverly hills postcard


As always, let me preface this by saying that I am in NO way implying that Waverly Hills Sanatorium does not have reasons to be haunted. It most certainly saw a lot of death in the TB days and accusations of abuse of the elderly in the later part of the 20th century. My ongoing goal is to provide you with accurate information so that IF you are going to investigate you know the real facts, not the manufactured ones, beforehand. The patients at Waverly were real people with real lives that were disrupted or ended by this horrendous disease, and the story SHOULD be about the great strides made at this cutting edge facility to try to give them a longer life, not the fakelore that has been fabricated about events that never happened. I personally find it disrespectful to walk into the place a person took their last agonizing breath and try to communicate with them by asking questions that have no basis in reality.

I’m sure no one can say exactly when the tales of hauntings started. I’ve seen interviews with nurses from the geriatric phase talk about weird goings on, but nothing before that (not to say people weren’t reporting it, just that I can’t find documentation) Someone somewhere knows who made up the erroneous tales that have fascinated folks so much they are willing to fork over their hard earned money to participate in ghost tours or private investigations but it is doubtful that information will ever be forthcoming.  Current rates are $22.86 for a two hour guided public tour up to $1500 for an overnight private investigation. Rumors have been circulating for years that the current owners want to turn it into a hotel but nothing has come of it yet. Still, you can give them even more money and obtain cute items via their gift shop.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize a place this expansive costs a lot to keep up and I am all for contributing to the preservation of a historical location. But (and yes, with me there is always a “but”) if I am going to hand over my hoarded grocery money or pawn my first born to spend a night there, how about giving me some real history or so I can conduct a real investigation?

When you google Waverly Hills, or watch any of the countless tv shows and movies filmed there, you are usually told (in no particular order) that there were over 63,000 deaths there, a nurse by the name of Mary Hillenburg was either murdered or committed suicide in room 502 (the year this supposedly happened varies depending on who you listened to), the fifth floor was for the mental patients, there was a blood draining room where dead patients were sliced open like wild game to bleed out thru a drain that led to the sewer system, there was a room for electro shock therapy and the death tunnel was used to remove bodies of people because they were dying at a rate of 1 or 3 (depending on who you’re listening to) an hour.

In 2001, Waverly was featured on Scariest Place on Earth (Season 2 Epi#23) with the new owner, starting the perpetuation of bad information and in 2006 a “documentary” called SPOOKED The Ghosts Of Waverly Hills Sanatorium covered all of these things in glorious detail via interviews with previous patients, staff employees from both the sanatorium and the geriatric center, some security people, a band, a ghost tour guide from a local paranormal group and the current owners.  I have to give one of the previous patients some props here, when asked about those claims, he would state those were things he did not know or had never heard about, and in what he DID talk about he came across as a man that doesn’t forget anything. TV shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures followed suit… using all the same mantra in the history they presented. I knew it was going to be bad when the opening of the “documentary” showed erroneous facts. It says that in 1928 there were so many deaths from TB in Kentucky that a monstrous sanatorium was built, complete with body chute AKA The Death Tunnel, constructed to remove the bodies and then informs us that it closed in 1958. Now, if you’ve forgotten the timeline I gave you above, the original hospital was built in 1910, a larger one was constructed and opened in 1926 and it closed in 1961. See? Bad start to said “documentary”

spooked01 spooked02

spooked03 spooked04


Do I have your attention now? If you are interested in reading about the real history be sure to pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations”

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